Gay Christianity – Pt 2: My Assumptions

Derek Ouellette —  January 13, 2013

[See part 1]

The underlying assumption I had going into my conversation with Gary was that homosexuality was a choice – conscious or unconscious. To put this another way, I assumed that God would not create a person to be gay and I think this assumption functioned more or less as the foundation for other assumptions.

For example, I never once considered that there might be a distinction between homosexual activity and homosexual orientation. I believed firmly, though perhaps subconsciously, that homosexuality was a condition of a reprobate mind. There could be several causes that lead to this, including child abuse and broken homes. But above all, I believed that it was the result of the worse kind of sexual deviation. That some people indulged their sexual lusts until normal avenues had been exhausted and alternatives alluring.

When Gary said, “they have chosen to live celibate lives” suddenly I realized that there were angles to this discussion that I had not considered. I thought the case was open and closed. I was wrong.

For example. I assumed that God would not create a person gay. But I had forgotten that humanity is broken and fallen from conception. This is not God creating a human to be gay. Rather this is simply another human coming into the world just like the rest of us. Fallen, broken and with baggage, like the rest of us.

But it was really Tony Campolo, more than anybody else, that caused me to see things differently.

A few months after that night at Gary’s house Tony Campolo had come to town for a lecture. Afterwords they had a whole slew of books he had written for sale, and one caught my attention in particular: Speaking my Mind. It was hot off the press.

The first thing Campolo did for me in this book was help me realize that nobody knows exactly what causes homosexuality, despite overconfident assertions to the contrary (such as mine). He also helped to reinforce and elaborate on the fact that we need to distinguish between homosexual activity and homosexual orientation. The Bible condemns the latter, but not the former. For an evangelical, that is a very important distinction to make.

Finally, in that book Campolo tells of a minister friend from Brooklyn who is called on one day by an undertaker and asked to do a funeral for a man who died of Aids. He is told that no other minister would touch it. So Campolo’s friend shows up and does what ministers do at funerals. His audience: gay men. They follow in a processional to the grave site where final remarks are made, the benediction is given and the men are dismissed. Only none of them leave. The minister asked if there was anything more he could do when finally one of the gay men spoke up. He wanted to hear the minster read the twenty-third Psalm. When he did, another gay man asked him to read a verse about how nothing can separate us from the love of God. At that point emotions swelled up on their faces. For over an hour the minister read their favorite passages to these gay men, one after another.

Here were a group of men terrified to step foot into a church, but also hungry for the Word of God. This story, and more like it, humanize the issues at stake. And it certainly pierced my heart.

In the next and final part in this short series I’ll talk about how my views have progressed since then, while remaining a committed evangelical. I’ll also share an email I received from a gay man some time back that I found very emotive (if I can find it).

[See part 3: Humanization]

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Derek Ouellette

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a husband, new dad, speaker, writer, christian. see my profile here.
  • KR

    As someone who self-identified as an out, loud and proud gay man — and also a Christian — for 14 years, I can personally attest to the fact that people who are submitted to the work of God’s Holy Spirit in their lives can and do experience real, transformative and lasting sexual orientation change. No, people don’t “choose” their humanly inclinations or proclivities toward sin. But we are all called to make godly choices regarding how we steward our fleshly impulses. Just because we humans may “feel” an attraction deeply or be tempted beyond what it seems we can — or should have — to bear, same-sex sexual contact always “misses the mark” and is therefore sinful. As does any other sexual contact that happens outside the bounds of one-man/one-woman marriage — the safe place that God in His infinite wisdom and love created for us humans to express the powerful and life-bringing force of sexuality as we bear His image as male and female, and from which flows marriage, family and the building blocks of society.

    • Derek Ouellette

      KR, thank you for sharing that powerful attestation.

  • drew chapados

    well done and KR–appreciate your thoughts very much–thank you

  • Dan Martin

    KR, I completely agree with the stance Derek is making, and very much appreciate your testimony. Nevertheless I ask–not in combat, but for understanding–how you respond to those committed, submitted, believing folks who have same-sex attraction, are neither loud nor proud, but have not been granted the transformation you speak of?

  • Jeff

    “The Bible condemns the latter, but not the former. For an evangelical, that is a very important distinction to make.”

    And Jesus condemns neither, interestingly enough. Do we worship Christ, or a book? For a Christian, that is a very important distinction to make. Are we Christians, or Paulians? Did Jesus deliver an incomplete work? Do we require Paul’s input to *really* understand how to live as Christians? Should we not view additions to Jesus’ message with skepticism and caution?

    • Dan Martin

      Yeah but Jesus *does* reaffirm male-female marriage.

    • Derek Ouellette

      Jeff, nobody is talking about worshipping a book. And what is with this insistence on pitting Jesus against Paul…. ?

    • Christine Flowers

      I am coming in on this dicussion a year later, I just read this article.
      Jeff, The Risen Jesus taught Paul for three years in the desert.
      Read Galatians chapter 1, Acts 9 and Corinthians

  • Damien Barber

    I hope this comment is taken in the spirit it is meant, but I have viewed homosexuality in the same light as any proclivity to sin. Yes, a person may have a certain genetic propensity towards homosexuality, but that does not mean they have to act on it or even that they cannot live a happy heterosexual lifestyle (of course celibacy is always an option for those who feel they could never be happy in a heterosexual marriage). My mom and step-dad are alcoholics; it has been proven that they have a genetic disposition to drink too much if they drink any alcohol. Does this mean that they have to give into drunkenness? No, they can choose to completely abstain from any alcohol (and yes, that is hard work for them and takes dedication because they long for that alcohol). In fact, they have been sober for years now, despite their genetic disposition. I, like my dad, am genetically predisposed to blow up in anger (genetically I am short-tempered), but does that not mean I cannot control myself and can just blame my genes? No it doesn’t. Some men (and women) are genetically predisposed to more easily be driven to lust after members of the opposite sex, but they too can combat that predisposition through self-control. In short, I think many of us (if not all of us) are predisposed to some kind of sin (either because of genetics or because of upbringing/ learned behavior), but that does not mean we need to give into that sin simply because it seems natural to us; we are called in the Bible to exercise self-control and fight against any tendency towards sin, whether that be lust, drunkenness fits of anger, or homosexuality.